Friday, 30 October 2009

Scared To Death of Doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award

The latest recipients of the Duke of Edinburgh Award are seen here dancing for joy after gaining their award.

When interviewed, candidates said they were originally attracted to the scheme following the comments of HRH Prince Edward who explained that one of the benefits of the award was the allure of death.

The Prince who has allegedly taken a Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification said that it was important that the benefits rather than the features of the award were conveyed to prospective participants. He also said that he read in one of the texts for his module that fear sells and so he was putting the latest marketing thinking into practice.

Because a crucial factor with the Duke of Edinburgh award was customer lifetime value he went to say and that in relation to participants being killed it was not necessarily good for business. "Obviously we don't want that to happen. Certainly that's not the intention: we give them the skills to go out there and do it safely and constructively. It was just that psychology, about what makes young people tick,"

So, it seems that if you have a necrophilious character
then the Duke of Edinburgh award might be worth considering.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Did Dead Girl Really Meet Man On Internet?

It pays not to believe everything you read in the newspapers, on line, or blogs. It also pays to develop the skill of cutting past the attention grabbing headline too.

Are headlines such as this latest one from the BBC,
Dead girl 'met man on internet' indicative of poor journalism or poor science teaching?

Anybody who seriously thinks that a dead girl met a man on the interent must be pretty gullible.

This isn't the reason why Facebook are offering virtual memorials is it? Do they have some sort of Sixth Sense for where the blogosphere is going next? The latest social media application -'chatting with dead people'

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Will The BNPs BBC Appearance Open Their Minds?

The liberal idealists of the BBC have fallen into the trap that almost every day dreaming liberal falls into. They have assumed that everyone in the world is open minded and delights in being persuaded of alternative perspectives so that they might change their point of view.

This might be fine slugging a bottle of Pinot over a nice dinner with learned friends. This is not what happens when confronted by people who have entrenched dogmatic mind-sets.

The principle of the BBC's current affairs programme Qustion Time is founded on an expectation that views are expressed and debated in an informed and intelligent way. This cannot be expected from the BNP. Typically they characterise problems in simplistic ways and offer simplistic solutions. Which is exactly the diet of the intellectually lazy. The less effort you put into understanding complex social and political problems and the less effort you need to put into inventing solutions is precisely the reason an appearance on Question Time is a waste of time. Nothing will be achieved.

Aha! I hear you say, but we'll let them hoist by their own petard. Sadly no. They are so utterly convinced of their own rectitude that they will be impossible to shift. Liberal democracies are built on sophisticated understanding of issues and informed debate. The BNP will simply rant and derive a perverse kudos by 'appearing' to have the same merit as the others who will be appearing.

Aha! again I hear you say, but giving them air time will show them in their true colours, any 'logical' person will see the flaws in their arguments once they are confronted by sophisticated responses. The problem here of course is two-fold. Firstly Question Time viewers are probably not your typical BNP voter so they don't need to have the BNP message revealed for what it really is. Secondly any BNP orientated viewers will simply listen to the points that support their world view and reject the rest out of hand, so nothing will be gained.

Believing that getting the BNP on Question Time and that suddenly the scales will fall of their eyes and the eyes of proto-BNPers in a massive 'on air epiphany' is almost bordering on compulsive optimism. Some might call it gullibility!

Interested in more?
Appealling to alienated communities
BBC explain their decision

The Dinosaur Behaviour of The Royal Mail Workforce

image thanks University of Chicago

Future business archeologists have discovered what look like the remains of a huge organisational juggernaut that was believed to have last roamed the earth in the early part of the 21st century.

The beast has provisionally be named Royalist Mailastodon.

Speculating on its demise Professor G.Ullibility suggested that the animal failed to adapt to changes in its environment, choosing to behave in increasingly out moded ways. It is thought that it devoted alot of its scarce energy to posturing rather and ritual stand offs rather than develop new ways of living in a changing world.

The scale of the fossil find and the arrangement of the bones further suggests some sort of death wish behaviour. All of the animal finds so far have huddled together and seemed to have simply given up on the quest for evolutionary competitive advantage. "Its like they just went on strike" the Professor said.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Social Networks and Brand Communities as an Extended Memotype

Most of us know the general mechanics of digital social networks and there is plenty of conversation about digital community types and ways to manage digital communities

Each version of what they are, how they should be constructed, how they should be managed is nevertheless based on some prior assumptions. Prior assumptions are invisible, frequently undeclared and more often than not 'taken for granted'

These assumptions guide the advice that people give and the actions they take. Marketing people might 'see' digital communities different from, sales people, lawyers might understand them differently to charity workers. I'd like to suggest that these differences start from memetic differences. The idea of an extended 'memotype' is inspired by Richard Dawkins who came up with the idea that that artifacts and effects of animals in the real world are the result of the genes in the animal. The example he gives is Beaver Dam. The beaver's genes want to live on, they exist in the phenotype we call 'Beaver' and the extended phenotype is the Beaver's dam which is something it make to support having a family. See:

Memes (Dawkins' idea) being culturally transmitted ideas, that enable notions to leap from brain brain, might consequently have extended 'memotypes'. These are 'forms' of digital communities that are created based on the dominance of the memes at work in the minds of the people who produce them.

We can therefore characterise digital communities by their memotype. We could create a customers base, a prospect list, a value segment, a lifestyle segment, a co-creation group, an experientially connected group.

Each of these conceptions (memotypes) is developed out of the difference in memes that make them up. The implication is that there might no singular right way to construct a digital community. Each form depends on the needs of the community and the environment. Some will prefer Ning, others Facebook. Each is a memotype with paticular characteristics that serve particular puropses. Their continued existence will depend on relevence and evolutionary adaptability.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Royal Mail Strike Stamps On Customer Service

The threatened Royal Mail Strikes planned for this October, reveals a self interested streak in the strikers.

The threat of strike is a tactic that is past its sell by date, and fails to take account of the competitive position of the Royal Mail. How gullible is that. The point is we don't need them. There are plenty of alternatives. We all use e-mail such as hot mail of goggle mail, and we can get our parcels delivered by several other providers. The strikes that could affect UK mail might win some short term benefit for the workers, but that is all. The strike action will ultimately undermine the brand.

Mail services depend on a reputation for reliability. They have to be service we can trust. If the Royal Mail is unreliable we will try more reliable alternatives.

The Communication Workers Union is sealing the envelope of the Royal Mail's future. It will be the work force that will become unstuck in the long run. As for demanding that the long term business plan be revealed how daft is that! Further evidence that the CWU have no idea what business they are in and the fact that that business is competitive.

Their case has as many perforations as a sheet of stamps.

The UK Mail Market

Saturday, 10 October 2009

How Do I Get Good Grades At University?

The questions 'how do I get good assignment grades' or how do I improve my marks comes up surprisingly often with university students. The puzzling thing is the way in which university students seem to overlook the clue in the title of their vocation.

Students are called students because they...wait for The origin of the word simply means 'one who is studying', which in turn means someone who is applying effort to gaining knowledge and understanding.

A significant number of students seem to assume that attending lectures and seminars is enough to provide them enough knowledge to achieve good grades. Frankly this is a gullible approach. Many also assume that they will 'told' all they need to know by the tutor. Gullible again.

Themes and issues in higher education are complicated and often ambiguous. This goes for the natural sciences too. The exciting elements of any subject are the frontiers where the answers aren't definitely known.

Getting to 'know' a topic takes time because there are no short cuts in reading. Further time is needed for the mind to process and ponder. Really understanding a topic means reading several sources, this obviously takes time too.

So often too students say they have a day 'free' when they are talking about self study time. Yet another clue in the title. Full time student spookily enough means 'full time.'

Good grades not only depend on understanding, them depend on analysis, and more importantly a clear ability to synthesise a range of perspectives, make sense of them and articulate the implications. The word 'because' is greatly underutilised. Students often assume the relevance and justification of their points is self evident.

Another crucial aspect of getting good grades at university is structuring your assignements well. This is a real 'knack' that comes with practice. If I could offer one piece of advice its to develop the skill of creating 'themes'. Significantly these only become apparent after reading several sources about a topic. Bad grades reveal limited reading not only in the depth of knowledge but the marked lack of any themes being identified and used.Assignment themes are 'bigger chunks' than the descriptive detail. They are the bigger grains that provide an assignment with a logical structure. See Chunking for more on this key process.

So what might themes look like. Some generic approaches seem to come up time and time again.

1.The Introduction Theme. Paradoxically whilst this is the first thing we read it is often better that it is the last thing that is written. This is because it should be a top level summary of what is to follow. It should also 'signpost' to the reader the key themes to be covered. e.g "I will approach this in 7 sections. Section 1 is..."

2. The Definitional Theme. You will be writing about a subject. It will be unlikely that this has one wholly accepted definition of what it is about. Different writers explain subjects in different ways. Show this.

The same might go for key concepts in the subject.

By doing this you a)show you have read, b) show you are critically aware, c)make good progress of wordage!

The Scope and Levels theme. Your subject will have boundaries. Where are they? Do writers agree? You subject can also be understood from different perspectives or levels of analysis. e.g. Macro, Meso, Micro. Culture, Society, Families, Individual, Behaviour, Mind, Brain, Neuro-chemistry.

The Trade Offs theme. Often things involve balancing two or more issues. They involve things that require a judgement. What are they? Strength versus Lightness, Control versus Creativity, Speed versus Quality etc.

The My Opion theme. Here you explain your position and why you take it. The quality of this theme will depend on how well read you are. If you talk about your opinion without justification this will get you good marks. In the UK this is known as the 'man in the pub answer.

The Concluding Theme. This is where you confirm how the subject has much more to it than meets the eye.

Obviously good grades will relate to specfic and correct calculations in natural sciences and other arithmetically specific disciplines, accurate points of law in legal subjects and technical accuracy where it is needed e.g. design and music.

Always refer to marking schemes. They are inavariably based on Blooms Taxonomy and you can use this generally to assess your own efforts. This is essentially a list of intellectual skills in ranking order. Regurgitated knowledge is less sophisticated compared to Synthesis of competing themes and ideas.

In the end you have two ways to get good grades at university. One is to copy the work of someone better than you. This is plagiarism or cheating and you will be caught and punished. The other way to get good grades at university is to think of an amount of time you are going to devote to reading for an assignment and multiply it by 4.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Blind Faith Neumanns Get Sentenced

Blind faith kills. Dale and Leilani Neumann allowed their beliefs to take precedence over knowledge and their daughter died as a result. They have been sentenced to 6 months.

The Age of Enlightenment put clear blue water between Metaphysics and Physics. It drew a line in the sand that divided Belief from Knowledge. A line that separated spiritual matters from physical matters.

People are able to believe things that are not true and disbelieve things that are true. I do not necessarily disagree with the Neumann's decision to pray for their daughter's health. What I do disagree with is the fact that they only prayed for her health.

Their dogmatic standpoint prohibited them for looking at many perspectives and allowing the perspective of physics, biology, and chemistry to play a part too.

Ethically they deserved a harsh sentence because they did not do everything in their power to ensure the survival of their daughter. They might claim that they were driven by a higher abstract purpose. This is an abdication of personal responsibility. It's like a kid saying 'well Johnny made me do it'.

Their position isn't 'knowing' because it is sanctimonious. It isn't spiritual because it's destructive. It isn't acceptable because it is exploitative of the weak and vulnerable.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Social Networking and Blogging with Squidoo

If you are not familiar with Squidoo and its unique style of social networking and blogging then you should seriously pop over and give it a try.

If you don't know much about Squidoo its a way that you can blog, photo blog, make money blogging and social network all at the same time.

I was recently awarded Giant Squid status. The minimum requirement for this is to create 50 so called 'lenses'. Lenses are a general template that you populate with pre-created modules (think of them as mini templates)You select from a wide range of types. The squidoo modules allow you to post your own written content, photos,videos,run polls, and integrate things such as Amazon, eBay and Zazzle. You can also link to Twitter, Flikr and bring in RSS feeds.

Lenses are themed on topic of interest. For example I've built ones on a wide range of themes like my genealogy and family history lens The Border Reivers, and I've created lenses on quirky themes such as How to open a champagne bottle using a sword another on Disguise Camouflage Deception and Mimicry business themes such as Marketing Ethics and Criticism, and other business themes such as Leadership, and ways to achieve Competitive Advantage.

A full list of my lenses can be found in what the Squidoo social networking community call a Lensography.

When I first started on Squidoo I only had a couple of lenses for many months. Then I was contacted by Michelle Willow to join a social networking group of Squidoo users who share tips and encouragement to go for Giant Squid status. I was drafted into a sub group led by Free Lance writer Carol Fisher, who was a great help in offering content and design advice.

As you learn more about Squidoo and the people and relationships in the Squidoo social networking community you discover that it is supported by a huge range of resources, it has its own forums and specialised squidoo lenses and there is a constant and vibrant technical development programme that adds and refines lens and module features.

Where did the idea originate from? Squidoo was the brainchild of Seth Godin, you can learn more the background to Squidoo here.What is Squidoo.

I really enjoy Squidoo. It is good way to do social networking, its a complementary form of blogging, it allows you to share knowledge and know how, and to photo blog as well. My next task is to create 100 lenses.

Friday, 2 October 2009

100 Things To Think About If You Live To 100

News that half of the babies in modern western societies could live to see their One Hundreth Birthday makes you stop and think. What will a world full of Centenarians look and feel like. (Careful now no other ageist sensory jokes here)

1. Will everything bodily still be in working order
2. If I'm a man could I still have children
3. If I'm a woman might I be able to have children later in life
4. I will have had 40 years as a pensioner
5. I could save quite a bit of cash
6. How much heat would be generated by the candles on my birthday cake
7. Will I outlive my grandchildren
8. Will petrol cars be a quaint historical idea
9. What subjects could I study to PhD level
10.Will my blog still be read
11.Will I still be blogging
12.Will I have reached my 50$ Adsense payout threshold
13.How much will I have earned from my Squidoo Lenses
14.How much will I have earned from my RedGage site
15.How long would my grass be if I stopped cutting it
16.How long would my hair be if I stopped cutting it
17.How long would my nails be if I stopped cutting them
18.If I lived to 100 my birthday would be in 2056
19.The second world war would have started one hundred an 117 years ago
20.The Beatles might be considered classical music
21.My grand children could be in their 50s
22.We might have landed on Mars
23.We might have a permanent base on the moon
24.We might have discovered extra terrestrial life
25.A third nuclear weapon will have been used in anger
26.I might have started and sold my own business
27.I could have achieved a Michelin Star
28.I could have learned to play the Cello
29.I was known as a popular and respected author
30.I might be kept alive by tubes and medicines
31.My kids might resent me
32.I would be champion table tennis player in my old folks home
33.I might be on my third marriage
34.I might have learned HTML
35.I might have learned Mandarin Chinese
36.I might have walked from Lands End to John O'Groats in the UK
37.I could be the oldest man to have climbed Everest
38.Would Blogger still be in existence
39.Would Twitter still be used
40.Would Facebook still be working
41.How many great great grandchildren would come and visit me
42.Would I have had time to learn Tolkein's Lord Of The Rings by heart
43.Would I have read War and Peace
44.Would I have any friends
45.Would I have alot of enemies
46.What I get the meaning of life
47.Would I be scared of dying
48.Would I want to die
49.Would I remember my childhood
50.Would I keep repeating myself
51.Would I keep repeating myself
52.Would I keep repeating myself
53.Might we have learned how to speak whale and dolphin
54.Could I be cloned
55.Would I have bionic eyes
56.Could I have a bionic heart
57.What would I like for my 200th birthday
58.Would I have been into space
59.Will the rainforests be bigger than they were when I was 50
60.Will anyone give me a life assurance policy
61.Will I have all of my teeth
62.Will I need a chaffeur
63.Will I still be playing golf
64.Will I still be playing the piano
65.Will my Atari ST be classed as an antique
66.Will my Commodore 64 with Jet Set Willy game be worth thousands
67.Will cold fusion be a reality
68.Will be still getting signals from Voyager
69.Where will Voyager be
70.How many Star Trek films will have been made
71.Will we all be dressed in the same clothes like in Logan's Run
72.What dance style will be popular in clubs
73.What hairstyle will be popular
74.How many new elements be discovered
75.Will maglev trains be the standard
76.Will more gospels have been found
77.Will a unifying religion have been created
78.Will I be rfid tagged under my skin
79.Will chimpanzees have learned to speak
80.Will the Kennedy assasination be fully solved
81.Where is Wally
82.What does the universe expand into
83.How many dimensions are possible
84.Will the Ford motor company still exist
85.Will MacDonalds still exist
86.Will Disney have created a character more popular than Micky Mouse
87.Will it have been worth it
88.What's next
89.Can we travel back in time
90.Can we fast forward time
91.Are there any new questions
92.Will we have departments of 'Pre-Crime' like in Minority Report
93.Will humans do 100m in less than 9 seconds
94.What will I remember
95.Who will be a hundred with me
96.Will I have known them all my life
97.Will people live to 200 hundered
98.How will my world view have changed
99.What will I think is the most important thing in life
100.Will I be happy

Will you live to 100?
The secret of living to 100